Brazil’s Palacio do Planalto press secretary (secretário de Imprensa e Divulgação da Presidência da República), Ricardo Kotscho, has sent a letter to the editor of the New York Times requesting explanations regarding an article on the creation of the Federal Journalism Council by their reporter in Brazil, Larry Rohter. The article was published on Monday.
Kotshco says that, contrary to the article, the idea for the council did not come from President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, but was drawn up by the Ministry of Labor and representatives of the National Federation of Journalists and journalist unions. The idea for the council was proposed, at a public hearing, to Lula in April.
“The article does not make a number of facts clear: for example, who actually proposed the council or that a National Federation of Journalists exists. Besides, no one in the federation was interviewed as part of the article,” says Kotscho in his letter to the editor.
Kotscho goes on to say that Rohter quoted only people opposed to the council, just repeating opinions that had already appeared in the media in Brazil.
In another part of the article, Rohter mentions the creation of a “ethics code” which prohibits civil servants from making comments to the media regarding official investigations.
“This is part of the government’s effort to combat money laundering and is still under discussion. No final decision has been made about sending a bill to Congress on this matter,” explains Kotscho.
Larry Rohter of the New York Times is no stranger to controversy. In May, following an article in which he said President Lula had a drinking problem that was causing concern in Brazil, Rohter had his visa canceled by the Brazilian government which called the article irresponsible, untruthful and offensive to the President. as well as detrimental to the image of the country abroad.
However, the decision to cancel his visa was reversed after he gave the government acceptable explanations.